Great Smoky Mountains National Park will celebrate the seventh annual National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 27, from 10am – 2pm with special activities at all three of the Park’s visitor centers.
Children and their families can join in a variety of free, hands-on activities at Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Cades Cove Visitor Center near Townsend, Tenn.; and Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee. A few of the natural and cultural opportunities that will be available include Ranger guided walks, historic toy making, opportunity to talk to a real wildland firefighter, the making of dinner bells at a blacksmith shop, and visiting touch tables with animal skins, skulls and scat. Information about specific programs is available at each of the visitor centers.
“National Junior Ranger Day provides a great opportunity for children and families to spend time together learning about the Park while doing fun activities,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We hope that our local residents will take advantage of this program to interact with our staff and the resources, and, at the same time, plan a full day in the Park.”
Children can earn a Junior Ranger patch, for free, by completing three of the specially planned activities. A Junior Ranger booklet is also available, for those who would like to explore the Park in more depth. The Junior Ranger booklets, produced in cooperation with Great Smoky Mountains Association, can be purchased for $2.50 each at Park visitor centers. The booklets are designed to serve a variety of age groups targeted at 5 to 6, 7 to 8, 9 to 10 and 11 to 12.
Middle and High School students have a special opportunity at Sugarlands Visitor Center to participate in a National Park Career Day. Students will get a “behind the scenes” look into the careers of the National Park Service. Employees will be demonstrating their jobs with hands-on activities while providing insight for those interested in these types of future careers. By including this Career Day for older children during the National Junior Ranger Day event, the park hopes to provide opportunities for all ages to experience the national park.
For information and questions about High School Career Day, contact Emily Guss (865) 736-1713.
National Junior Ranger Day is a special event held during National Park Week, celebrated this year between April 20 and 28. National Park Week is an annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebrating and recognizing national parks. This year’s theme is “Did You Know…” Most parks throughout the country will host ceremonies, interactive games, and special events designed to connect children with the resources found in national parks.
For information and questions about Junior Ranger Day, contact Lloyd Luketin (865) 436-1292.